JOINT TENANCY: Definition & Benefits of Owning a Joint Property

Joint Tenancy,Tenants in common vs Joint Tenancy
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Have you in any way considered buying a house with friends or family? It may interest you to know that the joint tenancy exists with the right of survivorship. This is a legal agreement between two or more groups who share ownership of private property like real estate, bank accounts, or brokerage accounts with equal rights and responsibilities. Read on to learn more about a joint tenancy which also covers joint tenancy vs tenants in common and what it entails.

What Is Joint Tenancy?

Joint tenancy is a legal term for a collection that represents the ownership interests and rights between two or more co-owners of real possessions. In a joint tenancy, two or more people own property together, each with equal rights and responsibilities.

Meanwhile, it can apply to personal property, bank and brokerage accounts, and business ownership. However, it’s mostly used for investments in real estate. When buying a property, joint tenancy provides all parties with equal rights to and responsibilities for the real estate bought.

Although joint tenants receive the same amount of interest in the property, there are rules for using their shares. The most essential condition of this type of joint ownership is that it includes the right of survivorship, which prevents co-tenant beneficiaries from inheriting their shares of the property.

Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship

The right of survivorship decides what happens to a particular type of ownership of the property after one of its owners dies. Under the law, there are different types of co-ownership, but the right of survivorship is found only in joint tenancy. In all joint tenancies, at the demise of one of the joint tenants, ownership of the remaining property passes to the surviving tenants, or successors, who assert the right of survivorship. This is a powerful legal right because it takes precedence over other claims upon the property.

How Does Joint Tenancy Work?

Joint tenancy is a type of ownership agreement commonly made when buying real estate. Two or more parties will decide they want to share ownership of a new property. This might be a married couple, friends, family members, or business partners. The joint tenants will sign together on a deed or a title, giving each party an equal share of the property.

Joint tenants share equal benefits and obligations for the whole property. If the property is rented or sold, both owners are entitled to an equal share of the gain. Each co-owner is also responsible for expenses such as mortgage payments and property taxes. Both parties are all equally responsible for the costs and potential debts of the other party.

Advantages of Joint Tenancy

There are some benefits to joint tenancy, including:

#1. Right of survivorship

The right of survivorship means that if one owner dies the interests in the shared property are immediately transferred to the other co-owner. This helps avoid probate, a legal process wherein the probate court reviews the deceased owner’s will for legitimacy. 

#2. Equal property rights

The joint tenancy agreement grants equal rights to all co-tenants. Meanwhile, shares and interests cannot be reallocated to grant one tenant a higher share of the ownership. This is particularly beneficial for group joint tenancies, such as in joint ownership of community property.

#3. Shared responsibility

Each co-tenant in a joint tenancy shares the financial responsibilities of the property, including estate taxes, property taxes, and debts. One tenant cannot take out a mortgage loan on the property and leave the other tenant with the debt. However, it creates extra security for both tenants.

Disadvantages of Joint Tenancy

There are also some disadvantages to joint tenancy agreements which comprise:

#1. Both parties must agree to the sale

Selling a home held through a joint tenancy arrangement can be difficult, as one party cannot sell the property without the consent of the other. This often comes up in divorces between couples who are joint tenants.

#2. No Changing of survivorship

The right of survivorship in joint tenancy means that the deceased party can’t pass their interests to any heirs other than the joining tenant. The surviving owner holds all rights to their interests.

#3. Your Co-tenants’ debts become your debts

Both parties are responsible for any debts that connect to the property. That means that if you share a bank account in a joint tenancy, you are responsible for the debts that your co-party has incurred in connection with that account.

Tenants in Common vs Joint Tenancy

Joint tenancy vs tenants in common is alike regarding the fact that they are estates held by more than one owner. However, joint tenancy vs tenants in common concepts is different in every other aspect.

When it comes to joint tenancy, each tenant has similar shares in the same property with the same act at the same time. it contains no words of severance. This is usually the case with buying a house or property by married couples.

The Parts of a Joint Tenancy Are

  • Agreement of title: the co-owners must have the same title to the property and the title must originate from the same grant it.
  • Conformity of interest: each co-owner owns an equal interest in the property.
  • Unity of time: the co-owners must acquire the property at the same time.
  • Harmony of control: each co-owners must have an equal right to retain the whole property.

Tenants in Common

Tenants in common arise where the property’s agent of a title has words of allocation property. The tenants may have unequal shares and a different ownership interest in the property. Here, a person might own 25% of the property while another might own 75% of the property usually based on their contribution to the purchase of the property. However, in a tenancy in common, the deceased owner’s share of the property forms part of his estate, and the law applies to Wills (if he has one) or administration of estate law applies to it if he died intestate. Thus, a tenant in common has no right of survivorship.

In parts of the country with a high cost of living, tenancy in common can make sense for residential properties tenants in common also make sense for real estate investors. Titling property in this way makes it easier for new investors to own a percentage, and previous investors to sell their share.

A joint tenancy continues as long as more than one joint tenant survives. Upon the death of one tenant, the shares of the other tenants increase equally as they absorb the ownership interest of the deceased person.

The Supreme Court held that by operation of law, joint tenancy leads to the doctrine of survivorship by which if one joint tenant dies without having obtained a separate share of the property for himself or herself, during his or her lifetime, his or her interest will not pass to his or her estate but such interest will accrue to the other surviving joint tenants. See Chinweze v. Mazi (1989) 1 SC (part 11) 33 at 46.

Ways to Terminate Joint Tenancy

You should agree with the co-tenants to convert the tenancy to a tenancy in common.

It could be by a transfer of shares to a third party without the approval of the other tenants. Division of the property or shares. It could be a material division of the land or a sale of the property and each co-tenant receives their share of the sale.

Ways to Terminate Tenants in Common

  • Agreement between the co-tenants to sever the tenancy.
  • Separation by the co-owners or by an order of the court.
  • Removal means any act which unlawfully denies a tenant in common their share of the property. 

If a Joint Tenant Wants to Sell Their Shares

A co-tenant will not sell their shares of the property without the consent of all other tenants. Instead, they will transfer their shares to another person. However, transferring the shares will automatically terminate the joint tenancy agreement. Therefore, forcing the new co-owner to enter a new ownership arrangement with the remaining co-tenant. The new arrangement is known as a tenancy in common.

What is joint tenancy and tenancy in common in Nigeria?

Each renter has the option to sell their own shares. Tenancy in common does not include the right of survivorship, in contrast to joint tenancy. Because of this, each tenant’s interest in a tenancy in common does not pass to the other tenants’ (owners’) interests upon death.

What is another name for joint tenancy?

Tenancy in common, another frequent form of co-ownership, is comparable to joint tenancy. These two ownership structures may appear to be almost identical, and occasionally the names are also unclear.

Which is an advantage of joint tenancy?

Joint tenancy has several key advantages, such as avoiding probate courts, sharing responsibilities, and preserving continuity. The main dangers include the requirement for agreement, the possibility of asset freezing, and the loss of control over how assets are distributed after death.

What makes someone a joint tenant?

Rent and other obligations are shared by joint tenants. If you and the other tenants all signed a single tenancy agreement, you have a joint tenancy. There are additional renters listed on your lease agreement.

What are the two types of tenancy?

Many leases are provided for a set period of time, such six months or a year. Other contracts are periodic, which means they renew on a weekly or monthly basis.

What are the disadvantages of joint tenants?

Because property kept in joint tenancy flows to the survivor regardless of what the deceased co tenant’s will specifies and regardless of who the decedent’s heirs are under state law, placing it in joint tenancy may disinherit children or others.

What are the consequences of joint tenancy?

Joint renters have the same legal rights to the entire property as the other owner and jointly own it. Property passes to the surviving owner in the event of the death of one owner. The property cannot be left to anyone else in your will.

Disposing of the Property in Tenants in Common

The most important difference between the two forms of ownership is that, if you enter a tenancy in common, you are not creating rights of survivorship. However, co-tenants can hand the property down to their heirs as a legacy. And you must not own equal shares and rights to the property. This means that if the co-owners wish to create a plan of when each party may use the property, they are free to limit their access in that way.

It is more easygoing when it comes to disposing of the property, either through a sale, gift or legacy.


What happens when joint tenants separate?

When joint tenants separate, they must determine how to divide their property. Splitting their shares has to be done together, and both must agree upon the terms.

When do I need joint tenancy?

Once a spouse, beneficiary, domestic or business partner dies, joint tenancy can be used, allowing the deceased’s partner to access the property under the will.

Can i sell th property without the approval of the orther parties

No, because the joint tenancy provides all parties with equal rights to and responsibilities for the real estate bought.

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